You're drying your hands all wrong – how you can spread germs even after washing | The Sun

WE all know how important it is to keep our hands clean.

During the coronavirus pandemic it was highlighted that many people weren't washing their hands in the right way.

Government messages appeared everywhere encouraging people to sing happy birthday whilst they scrubbed away.

And in general, hand hygiene is key when it comes to preventing bugs such as Covid and even the common cold.

But one expert has said while people pay a lot of attention to washing their hands – they always neglect a key element – drying.

Microbiologist Dr D. L. Webber said this is just as important when it comes to limiting the spread of diseases.

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The guru, who has over 50 years' experience in the field, said there is research to suggest that 85 per cent of microbes are transmitted by moist hands, compared with 0.06 per cent by dry hands.

This, he explained, is a potential source of contamination of bacteria and viruses to other people.

"Moist hands are also more likely to become contaminated when touching surfaces colonised by potentially pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes – particularly when using the washroom.

"This demonstrates that not drying hands properly could be less hygienic than not washing them at all.

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"The research demonstrated that the transfer of bacteria was directly related to the time and effectiveness of hand drying, the transfer of bacteria progressively decreased as water was removed," he added.

Dr Webber, who is working with hand dryer manufacturing firm Airdri, said there are eight different styles of hand drying people tend to use.

Here he reveals how much each style spreads germs.

1. Flicker/shaker

This is a person who flicks or shakes water from their hands instead of using a hand dryer or a towel.

Dr Webber said that with these people, contaminated water droplets usually end up all over the mirror, basin, walls, and floor.

"While they may be no friend of the bathroom cleaners, in terms of hand drying it’s an effective technique as it removes surplus water before the hand dryer does its job.

"The same can’t be said for the bathroom surfaces however, as bacteria from the hands contaminate a wide area.

"If this, is you, perhaps try and aim for the sink to limit droplets being dispersed around the bathroom – it’s more hygienic and it will make the cleaners’ job easier," he said.

2. Loo roll smuggler

If there is no hand dryer and no paper towel, then you might have had to rely on loo roll.

The result, Dr Webber said, is often hands covered in tiny, soggy bits of contaminated toilet paper.

3. Soggy trousers

Most of the time, this is a person who is in a rush and can never quite finish drying their hands in the dryer – so opts to instead wipe them on their trousers.

"Their hands may be dry; however, clothing can become contaminated and can also transfer microbes onto the clean skin, plus it’s an uncomfortable way to spend the rest of the day wearing damp clothes.

"This user should try another dry cycle to completely rid their hands of water," Dr Webber said.

4. Hair styler

Dr Webber said that this person will use the water residue on their hands to smooth down or style their hair.

"They may leave the bathroom with not a hair out of place, but their hands could be as dirty as before they washed them.

"Hair produces natural oils for protection and can be contaminated with normal skin bacteria including Propionibacterium acnes (the causative agent of acne) and Escherichia coli (a common bacterium which can cause food poisoning, diarrhoea, and urinary tract infections)," he added.

5. Drip dry

This thoughtless person doesn’t dry their hands at all, Dr Webber said.

"Wet hands transfer large numbers of bacteria and viruses to all surfaces they come into contact with, and from a hygienic perspective it would be better if they had not washed their hands.

"If this, is you, it’s time to stop and rethink," he added.

Dr Webber said that the ultimate goal when it comes to hand washing and drying is to leave with clean, dry hands.

"You need to be a surgeon or a wringer, spending time and effort to achieve this result – while probably infuriating other washroom users waiting to use the basin and dryers.

"The flicker/shaker and paper waster may also leave with clean dry hands, preventing microbial contamination by skin transfer to surfaces they contact – but with hygienic and environmental impacts respectively," he added.

6. Paper waster

We've all seen them, the person who grabs way too many paper towels when they need to dry their hands.

It may arguably be an effective way to dry the hands, but Dr Webber said it's not good for the environement

"Every paper towel used ends up in landfill as they can’t be recycled for hygienic purposes," he added.

7. Surgeon

The surgeon is a good example of how to correctly wash and dry your hands, as Dr Webber said this person is extremely careful.

He explained: "They get into all the cracks like a doctor scrubbing up for surgery and spend a good amount of time making sure every nook and cranny is moisture-free and clear of bacteria.

"The surgeon is not afraid to use a second drying cycle to ensure that their hands are completely dry (remembering not all air dryers are equal!)."

8. Wringer

Next up is the wringer who, as they remove the water from their hands under the hand dryer, they may appear like an anxious student waiting for their exam results.

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However Dr Webber said this is actually an effective way to dry hands.

"The friction created will remove droplets of water and assist the dryer in doing its job," he added.

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